Upbeat Grobe Points to the Positives

As Wake Forest prepares to face Syracuse this on Thursday in New York, Coach Grobe discusses this year's team in DeaconSports' look at Thursday's game.

Coach Jim Grobe has become a coach with a different outlook than many of his colleagues in the weeks leading to the opener at Syracuse, constantly heaping praise on his team.

This might be a matter of confidence building after his team was scarred by a nine-game losing streak last year. So Grobe hasn't shied away from pointing out the positives connected to his team.

"I think our talent level is better," Grobe said. "Our attitude is better." Whether the Demon Deacons are better remains to be seen.

"This year is a new year and we're ready to get back to old ways," said senior tight end Andrew Parker, who was part of a bowl team as a freshman before back-to-back losing seasons.

Grobe sounds like a believer, figuring that there could be a payoff from all the growing pains that the Demon Deacons endured during their 3-9 season in 2010.

Still, the Demon Deacons enter the season with their share of flaws. While those are being addressed, Grobe is promoting the positives as well.

"There's something happening right now," Grobe said.

--The only other time Wake Forest and Syracuse met, the non-league result catapulted Wake Forest to its best season in school history. The Demon Deacons won the opener in 2006 against Syracuse and went on to win the ACC championship and play in the Orange Bowl. Wake Forest is picked at the bottom of the ACC again, just as it was five years ago.
--The Demon Deacons have won at least one non-league road game in four of the last five seasons. That's notable here because the opener at Syracuse is the only road game out of conference for Wake Forest this year.

Wake Forest leads 1-0 (winning 20-10 at home in the 2006 opener).

Last year's revolving situation at quarterback created countless problems, but QB Tanner Price was the clear choice when injuries weren't part of the equation. The offensive line might have to be the core of the offense and improved play around Price is considered to be the main area of emphasis. There's ample opportunity for a new receiver or two to emerge as play makers, though WR Chris Givens is bound to be given the first shot at that and it will be interesting to see if he can revert to the 2009 form when as a freshmen he was a game-changer.

The good thing for Wake Forest is that players at positions across the board were rather embarrassed by the team's performance a year ago. That should heighten the motivation among this group. The defensive backs should have gained significant experience last year and that will be vital because the Demon Deacons will remain a bit unproven across the front line. They've switched the alignment to 3-4 after made a midseason change last year.

"It doesn't feel like a bunch of rookies out there, and that's a good feeling." -- Coach Jim Grobe, whose team had as many as seven first-year players on the field at the same time on defense a year ago.

--P Alexander Kinal is from Australia and has never played American football. But he's the potential starter at punter in the opener. At the start of the preseason, coach Jim Grobe said Kinal needed assistance properly putting on his helmet.
--LB Riley Haynes, who started half of the six games in which he played last year, has been back atop the depth chart this preseason after coming back from a torn knee ligament that caused him to miss the latter half of the 2010 season. He's a redshirt sophomore, and younger brother of Hunter Haynes, who played his senior season in 2010.
--DT Ramon Booi suffered a sprained knee in the Demon Deacons' final preseason scrimmage, meaning it's unlikely he'll be available for the opener. This puts a dent in the middle of the defense as his role as the top second-teamer along the front was deemed vital in the team's quest to bolster its rushing defense.

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